Just days after the hotly contested election was over, Morinville’s new town council was sworn into office last week.
Local MLA and speaker of the Alberta legislature Ken Kowalski administered the oath of office to all the new and returning councillors as well as Mayor Lloyd Bertschi on Friday in front of a room full of family and friends.
The swearing-in ceremony took place just days after the election was concluded.
Councillors Gordon Boddez, Paul Krauskopf and Ben Van De Walle were all sworn again, while newcomers Lisa Holmes, Nicole Boutestein and David Pattison took the chair for the first time.
The election was a relatively close race with Van De Walle finishing just 19 votes ahead of former councillor Donna Phinney.
Phinney did ask the town for a recount. Due to the relatively small number of spoiled ballots returning officer Jennifer Maskoske declined to conduct one.
“The rejected ballots combined to only 10 votes and her difference was 19.”
The Gazette was unable to contact Phinney this week, but she said on the day after the election that she had asked for the recount purely because it had been so close.
After all the numbers were tallied, Morinville residents cast a total of 1,920 votes, giving the town an estimated voter turnout of about 43 per cent, a relatively high level for such an election.
Three days into the job the new councillors said it has been an interesting learning curve.
Pattison said the job is consuming a lot of time, but he knew it would be a serious commitment.
“I expected the amount of time that it would take and it is.”
Holmes said it has been a smooth transition and said the town staff has been very helpful as she gets to know the ropes.
“The staff is doing a really good job of wading us into it.”
At its Tuesday meeting council was set to hear from a delegation of residents concerned about the odour from the Champion Pet Foods plant.
Holmes said it is interesting to see a campaign issue showing up at their very first meeting.
“It is good to see the issues that came up in the campaign really coming to life.”
Pattison said he has noticed a lot of people coming forward with ideas, suggestions and concerns in the days since being sworn in.
He said it seems as though the community is becoming more interested in municipal politics.
“I am sensing that people are feeling more engaged with it,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s just the post-election glow, but there seems to be some interest from people in being involved in some of the upcoming things.”